Proving Intent to Divorce: Your Corroborating Witness

by Philip Yabut in

"Wood Duck, P.I." by author In the age of no-fault divorce, it is relatively easy to end a marriage if both sides consent and settle their issues before filing.  But even if both spouses really, really, really want to split up,  someone besides the separating parties must vouch for their intent to divorce under oath and in open court (note: Virginia allows for divorce by affidavit under certain circumstances; DC does not at this time).

Your corroborating witness can be anyone you know -- a relative, friend, colleague.  The court requires the witness to answer a series of questions demonstrating his/her personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the plaintiff's separation from his/her spouse and whether the couple has remained separate and apart throughout the required time prior to filing the divorce action.

Virginia's special statewide rules allow both the plaintiff and corroborating witness to answer their questions by written notarized affidavit if  there are no outstanding issues to be determined by a judge.

The following are sample witness questions taken from a divorce guide provided by the Fairfax County Circuit Court:

1. State your full name and address please? 2. Are you acquainted with the Plaintiff in this action? 3. What is your relationship? 4. How long have you known him/her? 5. Does the Plaintiff currently reside at (ADDRESS)? 6. For at least six months prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce, please state all addresses where the Plaintiff has resided. (Note: if it is the other party upon whom jurisdiction is grounded, then ask this question regarding the residency and domicile of the other party.) 7. So for at least six months prior to the filing of the Complaint for Divorce on (DATE), was he/she a bona fide resident and domiciliary of the Commonwealth of Virginia? (Note: if it is the other party upon whom jurisdiction is grounded, then ask this question regarding the residency and domicile of the other party.) 8. Is the Plaintiff currently married to (spouse’s name)? 9. Have you met the Defendant? Would you know him/her by sight? 10. Are both Mr. and Mrs. (NAME) over the age of eighteen? 11. Have either of them been active duty members of the Armed Forces of the United States or its allies at any time during the pendency of this suit? 12. Is it your understanding that they were married on (Date) in (Place)? 13. Were there any children born or adopted of their marriage? (IF YES, ASK NAMES AND AGES) 14. Did they separate on or about (Date)? 15. At the time of the separation, was it the intent of at least one of them that it would be a permanent separation that would ultimately lead to a divorce? 16. Has that intent continued on the part of at least one of them up until the present date? 17. How did you become aware of the separation? 18. Have you had an opportunity to visit in the Plaintiff’s or Defendant’s home since (Date of Separation)? 19. How often have you visited with the Plaintiff/Defendant in his/her home? 20. In any of your visits to his/her home, have you ever seen anything which would indicate to you that his/her spouse was continuing to live there after (Date of Separation)? 21. How frequently do you speak with the Plaintiff/Defendant either by telephone or in person? 22. In any of your conversations with him/her, have you ever heard anything which would indicate to you that after the (Date of Separation), he/she had reconciled with his wife/her husband and resumed living together with her/him? 23. Do you believe you have a close enough relationship with the Plaintiff/Defendant that if he/she had reconciled with his wife/her husband and resumed living with her/him, that you would have been aware of that fact? 24. So, to your knowledge, have they lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption from (Date of Separation) up to the present date? 25. Do you believe there is any hope or probability of a reconciliation between them?

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Philip R. Yabut, Esq. || 1100 N. Glebe Road, Suite 1010, Arlington, VA 22201 || (571) 393-1236 ||